Challenges Faced by New Wheelchair Users

wheelchair1Today, there are a number of different types of wheelchairs available. There are literally hundreds of different features and designs that are available to help fit the needs of wheelchair users. For the new wheelchair user, choosing the right wheelchair can often be a very difficult and confusing task.

Usually when an individual gets their first wheelchair, they do not know a lot about how wheelchairs work and what features will fit their needs. Often, a doctor will prescribe a wheelchair as part of their treatment and then take measurements of the individual to determine what type of wheelchair to order. There are actually a number of problems that can arise from this process, but they typically are caused by the patients own lack of knowledge of wheelchairs and the fact that the doctor is not a wheelchair user.

Since many doctors have never actually used a wheelchair for an extended period of time, through no fault of their own, they might not be the best resource for fitting an individual to a wheelchair. The patient, who is also inexperienced in wheelchairs, turns to the doctor as an expert on wheelchairs, but this is not going to always be the case.

Instead, the doctors experience with wheelchairs is often limited to a few days of training during college, so they measure the patient and plug the numbers into a worksheet to determine the proper dimensions. As a result, the wheelchair prescribed might not fit the best needs of the patient.

This is, of course, not to say that all doctors are poorly, have an ill intentions, or are not a good source of information. However, it is important to understand that since the doctor or specialists has probably never used a wheelchair for an extended period of time, they are not always as knowledgeable about the subject as a person might think.

To help deal with these challenges, there are a number of things the wheelchair user can do. First and foremost, it is a good idea to do some research about wheelchairs. This can involve reading articles about wheelchairs, but it is highly recommended to also talk with someone else who uses a wheelchair, because they offer a wealth of information.

Another great source of information is actually wheelchair salesman. They quite often know a great deal about wheelchairs and can be a great resource. However, since they are a salesman, it is imperative to remember they want to sell you a wheelchair and so, might not provide you a completely objective view. Instead, they will likely only mention products they offer, so it is very important to take what they say with a grain of salt.

One of the major parts of determining what type of wheelchair is best, will revolve around where the wheelchair will be used and the physical abilities of the rider. Since manual wheelchairs can be very strenuous, someone with very limited mobility might not be able to successfully use it, the physical abilities of the wheelchair user will be one of the most important considerations.

There are also a number of features and adjustments that can be made to the wheelchair to make it more comfortable and usable. For instance, some manual wheelchairs do not have armrests, which can make it more maneuverable, less strenuous on the arms, and easier to move under a table. Others have lowered backs, which make turning around in the wheelchair easier, or are designed to move much faster than traditional wheelchairs. This can be one area where an existing wheelchair user can offer excellent insight, but remember that some of these factors will come down to personal preference.

Understanding the options available and doing a good bit of research, can make finding the right wheelchair much easier.

For the wheelchair user, being involved in the wheelchair selection is imperative and one of the most important things they can do, because when a wheelchair is prescribed strictly by the books and without input from the patient, it will not always fully meet their needs.